During a recent episode of Grilling JR, WWE Hall Of Famer & AEW commentator Jim Ross and Conrad Thompson discussed Shawn Michaels during the height of The Attitude Era.
“‘I see so much of myself in Shawn Michaels’. He’d give all of these descriptions: he’s defiant, he’s creative, he’s high strung. Yeah and both of you are insecure, both of you are afraid of your own shadow, both of you are wondering when the other shoe will drop. So yeah, maybe you are right.”
JR was asked: “When did you find out Shawn was going to forfeit the WWF Title (The famous Shawn Michaels, “I lost my smile” promo)?”
He replied: “I guess earlier that day. He was volatile. He was polarizing and volatile so anything you heard about Shawn, it was not going to be a total shock. You kind of got used to it.
But, surrendering the title, I don’t know if he lost his smile because he was injured or lost his smile because he couldn’t handle the pressure. He was influenced by outside sources that liked to poke gas on his fire.
I don’t know…So once you get the message of what’s going to happen in the production meeting that morning, it was like, geez, that’s pretty extreme. Maybe you give him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe something is really wrong. We didn’t know.
But I always thought his feelings were hurt more than his knee or his back or whatever, and I don’t know exactly why. He had a hard time handling and accepting the responsibility of being the top guy in the territory.”
JR was asked: “Was it because of pressure from within or pressure from Vince?”
He replied: “I don’t know if it was pressure from Vince or not. Vince loved him. It’s proven. We paid Shawn $750,000 a year for about 4 years to do nothing because he was Vince’s guy. Every time we go over budgets and things, where are we at with the Shawn contract? Nothing, leave it alone. Ok.”
JR was asked: “When you say 4 years, are you saying 1998-2002 that he was still on the payroll at that price?”
He responded: “That’s what I’m saying, Conrad. That’s just Vince. Vince didn’t have to do that.
Here’s the deal. All Shawn wanted to do was go work and go play with Kevin (Nash) and Scott Hall. So that would have been for WCW nice to get a gift of Shawn Michaels, wouldn’t you think? So he took good care of him.
I really believe he wanted to go have fun working a very limited schedule with Kevin Nash and Scott Hall in Atlanta for WCW and he was trying to get there. McMahon says ain’t no way in hell this is happening. If I have to pay you to sit your little a$$ at home, I can do that and I will do that. Shawn got blocked on what he wanted to do, he didn’t get his way to leave WWF.”